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Slumping Rangers G Lundqvist shuts out Caps

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- Maybe New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist just needed to face the Washington Capitals to raise his confidence and lower his goals-against average.

Ranked 52nd among NHL goaltenders with a 4.21 goals-against average entering the night, Lundqvist stopped all 22 shots he faced Wednesday to record his first shutout of the season and lead the Rangers to a 2-0 win over the Capitals in front of a sellout crowd at Verizon Center.

"I was a little more aggressive today," Lundqvist said after picking up the 46th shutout of his career and improving his GAA to 3.33 and his save percentage to .902. "I felt good, but we really set the tone in the first period the way we killed off the penalties. It was just great to see. We did all the little things right."

John Moore and Ryan Callahan scored goals 1:46 apart in the second period to send the Rangers (2-4-0) to their first win since Oct. 7.

"We had two good practices (in New York) and came here and put our best foot forward," Capitals coach Alain Vigneault said. "I thought our guys competed real hard, which is the key to any game, and we did a lot of the right things with the puck."

The Capitals (2-5-0) have not scored a goal against Lundqvist since Game 5 of last season's Eastern Conference quarterfinals, which the Rangers won in seven games. Since then, Lundqvist shut out New York for nine consecutive periods, stopping 86 straight shots.

"You're not going to score in this league if you don't put the puck on the net," said Capitals veteran Martin Erat, who is still looking for his first goal. "A hundred percent of the shots you don't take are not going to end up in the net."

The Rangers got all of the scoring they needed in a brief stretch during the second period. After the Capitals failed to score on a power play, Rangers center Brad Richards sent a pass back to Moore, who snapped a shot that handcuffed Washington goalie Braden Holtby and beat him glove-side for Moore's first goal of the season at 12:05.

Richards picked up his second assist of the night when Callahan beat defenseman John Carlson in a race to the net, deflected Richards' pass into the air and batted the puck past Holtby at 13:51 for his third goal of the season.

"(Carlson) lost him there, and I think they were tired," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "That shift was a long one. We had two chances to get it out, and we didn't."

The Capitals failed to record a shot in the final 9:12 of the second period and were outshot 21-6 in the middle period.

Alex Ovechkin, who leads the Caps with six goals, recorded a team-high seven shots but continued to be frustrated by Lundqvist, who held him to one goal on 30 shots during last season's playoff series.

"That's a pretty good offensive team," Rangers forward Dan Boyle said. "I think we did a great job, especially on the power play, gaining some momentum for us."

Holtby made 34 saves but fell to 1-4-0 this season.

"If we play like that, we're not going to win games," Holtby said. "Simple as that."

NOTES: Washington D John Erskine (upper body) sat out his second consecutive game, allowing rookie D Alex Urbom to remain on a second pairing with Carlson. Rookie D Nate Schmidt served on a third unit with D Steve Oleksy. ... The Rangers were without D Michael Del Zotto, who remained in New York with the flu. D John Mitchell played in his place. The Rangers also were without LW Rick Nash (concussion) and LW Carl Hagelin (shoulder). ... Capitals C Jay Beagle turned 28 on Wednesday. ... The Rangers, who played the sixth game of a season-opening, nine-game road trip, are waiting for the final phase of construction on Madison Square Garden to be completed. The Rangers' trip started with games in Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Jose, Anaheim and St. Louis. The string of road games continues with stops in New Jersey, Philadelphia and Detroit. New York plays its first home game of the season Oct. 28 against the Montreal Canadiens. ... The Capitals conclude their five-game homestand Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. They'll then hit the road for games in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Philadelphia.
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